The Latest From Lubbock
Posted By Maegan O'Rourke
Texas Tech University fired Mike Leach, its head football coach, Wednesday. The firing stemmed from an investigation into how Leach treated a player who had suffered a concussion.
Adam James, a sophomore wide receiver, alleged that Leach forced him to stay in an equipment shed at two separate team practices while the player recovered from concussions. James used the video on his cell phone to record part of his time in the shed.
Leach blames his firing on “lies and fabrication,” and said that it was an attempt by the university to avoid paying him all of his five-year, $12.7 million contract (Leach was due an $800,000 bonus if he was still the coach of the Red Raiders on Dec. 31). But it seems to me that everyone is overlooking a major detail: He locked a player with a concussion in an equipment room.
Let’s just repeat that one more time – an injured player is forced to stay in a shed … as a punishment for his injury? I can’t imagine this ever happening in Chestnut Hill. Division I college football teams are awarded some of the finest athletic trainers and medical facilities in the country – so why isn’t a player with a concussion being properly cared for?
One of my favorite excuses I’ve heard for Leach’s behavior was that James wasn’t required to stand up the whole time; in fact, James was free to “walk around, lie down, and eat ice,” according to the former TTU head coach. Wow, isn’t that nice of coach Leach?
After watching endless amount of coverage on ESPN, I’ve pretty much seen every analysis of and interview on the subject. It seems that the sports network does not want to take a side on the issue; of course, the network faces a conflict of interest, as it employs James’ father, Craig, as a college football analyst. Also, it would not be fair to vilify Leach without presenting both sides. But why is there not more outrage over Leach’s alleged coaching tactics? It seems like people are quicker to praise Leach’s offensive genius than they are to criticize his treatment of James.
I’m also tired of hearing Leach pass the buck on James’ coaches and teammates, who thought James had a poor work ethic and a negative attitude, or that Leach had to cater to Craig James constantly. How could any of those criticisms ever justify locking a player in a room? No matter what the situation is, no injured player should ever be so abused.
I think the real truth of the situation will eventually come from the Texas Tech players: Did they want Leach gone? There probably won’t be consensus on the entire team, but some players have already spoken out, saying they agree with the university’s action.
“I have no complaints about this decision. [Leach] put Adam [James] in a shed like an animal. Like an animal in a cage. That was bull,” defensive lineman Chris Perry told ESPN. “You call other players. I think it was a good decision. We have our pep back now. We practiced hard this week. We had less stress this week. You know why? Because he’s gone.”
As the situation in Lubbock continues to play out, more current and former players will probably come forward. Leach will probably continue to defend himself with baseless excuses. Hopefully, James can win back the trust of the locker room and Texas Tech can move forward from the Leach debacle.